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A.C.C.C./A.S.I.C. cooperation agreement



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JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

A.C.C-C./A S.I.C. COOPERATION AGREEMENT

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman, Professor Allan Pels, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Chair, Mr Alan Cameron, today signed an important Cooperation Agreement between the two agencies. "

The Agreement follows recommendations by the Financial System Inquiry which most recently resulted in the formation of a new financial regulatory system headed by ASIC and the Australian Prudential Regulation authority. -

The passing of the Financial Sector Reform (Consequential Amendments) Act, means responsibility for primary consumer protection in the 'financial services sector1 has passed from the ACCC to ASIC.

Under the Agreement, the two agencies will refer complaints to the most appropriate agency, exchanging information where that is permitted by law and, if required, undertaking joint responses to problems in the market. For example, complaints may be referred when the conduct complained of Involves both financial and non-financial services or where it involves both consumer protection and competition issues.

The agency heads believe the agreement will be more than just a public affirmation of the need for the agencies to avoid duplication and reduce administration costs.

"Business and consumers reasonably expect the ACCC and ASIC to work closely together and the Co-operation Agreement signed today is a public commitment to that goal," Professor Pels said.

"The need for this agreement was recognised before the financial sector reform legislation took effect. It signals our intention to work together closely to provide business and consumers with efficient and effective consumer protection in the financial services market.

"The administration of the competition provisions of the Trade Practices Act as they apply to financial services, will continue to be the sole responsibility of the ACCC."

Mr Cameron said ASIC would continue, and expand, the consumer protection and consumer education role it had begun as the Australian Securities Commission.

"Consumer groups have already told us they want less regulatory duplication and a financial system they can understand and use with confidence. This Agreement will streamline the consumer protection process, providing a system which is less confusing."

Copies of the Agreement can be obtained from either the ASIC Infoline on 1300 300 630 or from the ACCC Internet site; http://www.accc. gov.au

Further information Ms Lin Enright, Director, Public Relations, ACCC, (02) 6243 1108 Mr Peter Kell, Special Adviser - Consumer Protection Policy, ASIC, (02) 9911 2092 ACCC: MR 134/98 ASIC; 98/208

17 July 1998